January 21, 2014
Antiguan boy has surgery in SVG for congenital disorder

Even with a medical bag surgically attached to his body, Amir Emanuel is one of the most active little boys one could ever meet.{{more}}

Emanuel was born with nerve cells missing from his colon. As a baby, he was diagnosed with Hirshsprung Disease, a condition which makes it difficult for him to pass stool.

Through the World Pediatric Project (WPP), Emanuel, who is now three years old, travelled from Antigua and Barbuda to St Vincent and the Grenadines last week and had surgery to correct his problem.

“We realized he couldn’t pass his stool. He had to force to pass his stool and when I found out about it, I took him back to the hospital as a baby, at two weeks old,” Antonia Lake, the boy’s grandmother told SEARCHLIGHT.

Lake explained that doctors in Antigua and Barbuda had trouble finding out what was wrong with Emanuel. She chronicled some of the things that her grandson had to go through at a very young age.

“When he was six weeks old, I took him to my physician and he realized that something is wrong with the anus. Whatever it is, he didn’t know. He said we had to take him back to the pediatric surgeon which he gave me a letter to take to him and I went. The pediatric surgeon said that because of the fact that the doctor just put his finger in his anus, he cannot put in his finger again because of the age of him,” she said.

“I keep on seeing him on a monthly basis, but just for a check-up until he (Emanuel) was a year when they took him to the theatre and he (the doctor) said they stretched the anus; maybe the anus is narrow so they stretch it”.

The grandmother, who tried to fight back tears, said that the procedure only solved the problem for a week.

After doing a biopsy and sending the results to Jamaica and Miami, it was evident that Emanuel had Hirschsprung Disease and after several attempts to fix her grandson’s ailment, Lake stumbled upon the WPP programme.

“They say that he have to use the bag for a year. When it’s full you take it off, empty it and use it again. The doctor said I can change it once a week, as long as he not going off too often,” Lake said, explaining the function of a bag that is surgically attached to the side of Emanuel’s abdomen.

“You change it once a week and I have to use it for a whole year. So, until January next year, he has to use a bag and then when we come back next year, they’ll do the other part of the operation, because they have another part to do”.

As tears silently formed tiny tributaries on her cheeks, Lake expressed deep appreciation for the WPP and what they are doing for the children of the world.

“I think it’s a good thing. If they didn’t introduce me to them, I don’t know what would have happened to him. I don’t have the money to take him to the States. I think that these people are doing it for the less fortunate people that cannot afford it and it’s not often that you find people like those,” she said.

Lake, whose deep love for her grandson was obvious, said that she prays he will be able to overcome his problem.

She explained that Emanuel is the fourth child conceived by his mother; however all of the others have died. The Antiguan revealed that her daughter suffered miscarriages with her first two children and the third died in his sleep at the age of one year and five months, because of a narrow trachea.

“I hope that everything else go well for Amir. It’s my daughter’s fourth child, but he’s the only one alive,” Lake said, as Emanuel sat on her lap and wiped tears from her face with his tiny hands.

“When he wants to go off, sometimes I cry to see him force. One night he had it so bad, we had to take him to the hospital and the doctor used his finger and pull out the stool. I go through a lot. I pray a lot, I cry a lot”.

Lake and Emanuel left St Vincent to return home last Sunday.

Next year, Emanuel is expected to come back to this country, where he will have the bag removed and a section of his intestine correctly joined to his anus.

“He’s alright. He was very active before the surgery [and] he’s still active,” Lake said.